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REL ST 4320/7320: Introduction to Daoism: Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Information

Evaluating information is an important step in the research process.

Evaluating information means you read the book chapter, article or web page thoroughly and think critically about it.  Ask yourself why it was published, who wrote it and published it, when it was written and how it pertains to your research question.

Why evaluate?

  • Information is published by a wide variety of authors, some with solid academic credentials and some without...
  • Some information sources are vetted or reviewed before publication, but some are not, especially those found on the free web
  • Information is easy to find - in books, articles, web, radio, tv, etc. - you can easily get overwhelmed unless you critically evaluate the sources
  • Your professors want you to use scholarly information, but not all information is scholarly, so you should critically evaluate it.

Criteria for Evaluating - The CRAAP Test

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

• When was the information published or posted?
• Has the information been revised or updated?
• Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
***Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

• Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
• Who is the intended audience?
• Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
• Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
• Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

• Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
• Is there an obvious match, or mismatch, between the author's credentials and the topic?
• • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
• Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
***Does the URL reveal anything about the source? .gov and .edu are only for government and college/school sites, but anyone can register .com or .org

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.

• Where does the information come from?
• Is the information supported by evidence?
• Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
• Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
• Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
• Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.
• What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
• Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
• Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
• Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
• Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Key: *** indicates criteria is for Web only

Video: Website Evaluation

Information Timeline

Video: Evaluating Information Sources